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Kamome’s Adventures in HO


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This weeks mini project was to number the Kato Wamu 80000s. Kato very annoyingly only provide 4 full number options with other individual digits to create your own numbers. The challenge is getting everything lined up if you want to do the latter.. 


I also have Wamu 90000s, a Yo 5000 and Tora 45000s which thankfully have numbers of the same size and font. 

So I essentially cut out a 4 number sequence from other wagon numbers and lined them up behind the 28 for the Wamu 80000s to give some variation. 

All have been fitted with #58 Kadees and 6 of the 12 have been weathered and had their brake handles and shunting steps painted.


I did manage to get around to painting all of their brake pads before i eventually give them some more weathering with the airbrush at a point in the future. I may decide to add some interior detailing but it’s not a priority. Also difficult to find images of these things being loaded.






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Nice work, I like the effect of the painted brakes and steps.  I may have to copy you and do that to my own fleet. 

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Thanks @Kiha66


It adds a little extra and i noticed that Musashino brass versions have additional parts on the underside painted too. To get to the brake pad, you need to remove the shell and push the wheel housings out. They unclip with a firm push. There’s a thin brass strip which acts as the suspension on each axle. The Toras and 90000s have the same housing but the Toras have to be totally dismantled to get to them. 

My plan is to give the underside a airbrush dusting with a suitable brown and then either use powder or an orange brown to replicate brake dust. The colour i used here was actually called “brake dust” from a company in the UK called Railmatch. They produce enamel and acrylic paint for most British outline uses. The colour looks spot on to my eye for well used brake pads. I generally find their colours look great on British stock, but certainly their rail dirt colours are not quite orange or red enough for Japanese underside muck. 

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Started the Herculean task of detailing the 20 series coaches. The detailing is pretty good and I do think for the price point, Kato produce some incredibly good stuff. These are particularly nice but there are a few areas where it is obvious the model needs some updating. 


There are hand rails to fit on every door and at the end of each coach. Diaphragms are not fitted from the off but this does allow better access to applying decals to the ends of coaches. There is a wealth of decals to apply and not doing this with a tampo printer obviously reduces the manufacturing cost. It is relatively labour intensive though as each coach end has 4 largish decals to apply as well as some very small door side number details for the perfectionists.


Plastic details to fit include door handles, gangway dampeners and diaphragms. The instructions are a bit dated and it takes a couple of passes to understand what goes where on each coach. This is certainly not fully explained when it comes to decals so some photo reference was needed to get everything in the right place. 


As mentioned in the new acquisition thread, there are a few areas where it is clear Kato have churned out another run of the old model. This is not a major issue as the model is very good, but some niggles remain for the modern railway modeller wanting convenience which would improve the model in my view. 


Firstly, the coupler housings on the Kani 21 and Nahanefu 22 ends are not compatible with kadee couplers like many other coaches. If you add kadees with a kadee gearbox then you’d lose some of the moulded detail unless you decide to butcher the existing parts.  Inter-consist couplers use the same as found on their Kiha 58/82 and 24 series coaches. They couple nice and close with diaphragm parts almost touching. 


The inclusion of decals is limited. As with a few of Katos older models, they haven’t supplied enough of the right decals. Named trains has a good selection although in my case, Akebono is not one of them. This is slightly annoying, especially when Katos early EF65-1000 comes with an Akebono head mark. So if you want to model this train, you have to go to a third party to get destination boards and coach headmark to apply. Kato really need to look at producing an added pack for their 20 series, same as they do in N gauge. Another common niggle is the lack of coach numbers. Most of the formation details on Katos website have a minimum of 7 nahane 20s. Kato supply 3 coach numbers for the Nahane.


The other issue is for DCC users but this is common across Kato. Decoders would need to be hard wired for this train, same as the Kiha 82. There is plenty of space in toilet ends of coaches so not a huge issue for those wanting to convert. 


Sorry this turned into a mini review. They certainly are a very well produced model, i’ve not seen the Tramway coaches to compare against.  Just Kato perhaps need to look at how they can update some of their HO offerings as this has happened a fair bit with their N gauge offerings. I appreciate this is their main market but their HO shouldn’t be overlooked. Price and quality is still what we’ve come to expect from Kato. 


I still need to add coach numbers, service names, destination boards, and coach type details to the side of the coaches. I also need to apply coach numbers. I will need to procure some third party parts to do this, but there are at least 12 decals or so to apply to each coach side.




Edited by Kamome
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Thanks for the review!  They seem to be a nice model out of the box, but take some work to bring them up to fully decorated.  I am disappointed kato didn't include a generic express option or the Sakura mark, and instead kept the same destinations as their original run.

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Despite the delay in production and release,  the result feels a little rushed. As mentioned certainly not a bad model but definitely an incomplete one. You’d have thought they’d have looked at their locomotives and matched the named trains to give customers some options from the off.  Their early type EF65-1000 comes with Izumo, Nihonkai, Seto and Akebono headmarks, none of which are catered for with the Kato 20 series. They do match their EF65-500 though but this hasn’t been produced for some time. I do think their best course of action would be to produce an add-on detail set. The Kiha 82 had one with some alternative train names or picture panels for the headmark. Gives a lot of choices for train options rather than looking elsewhere for details.

Edited by Kamome
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